Sex education in school is of less consequence than education in values, opined India’s health minister, #Dr.Harshavardhan, and stirred a hornet’s nest of a debate on television channels last night. “Minister, re-set your views to match the times; #SexIsNotaBadWord”, was, to put it blandly, the sum and substance of the advice thrown at him from anchors and panelists of all hues.
Sex is like food, or water, or the urge to go to the loo. There can be no two views on that. You educate students about health and hygiene, not necessarily on how to identify hunger or thirst, right? Health and hygiene are values. Similarly you educate students on changes that happen in the process of growing up and how reproduction happens. You also tell them about the consequences of unintended pregnancies, undesirable and intrusive physical intrusions and so forth. These are also values that can come under the broad rubric of science – call it biology, psychology, life science or moral science.
Does sex education by any other name mean anything less? We talk of food in school in terms of vitamins and proteins, water in terms of hydration and chemical components, and the loo in terms of the digestive tract and other bodily parts. Why should sex education be treated any differently? Why is the nomenclature more important than the import of such education? Sex is not a bad word, but why balk at words like ‘values’ and ‘morals’. Are these any less necessary than food, water or sex?